How to Install a Replacement Vinyl Window (No Hassles)

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Vinyl windows are preferred by homeowners wanting to save construction or renovation costs. For the most part, they cost less to install and maintain compared to more conventional types. Durability is a different issue with homeowners having to replace vinyl windows more often than usual.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds, but it’s easy to get it wrong the first time you’re installing replacement vinyl windows. This guide will help you avoid making mistakes that will cost more time, money, and effort to repair. 

Why Install Vinyl Windows Anyway?

Before we talk about the steps to installing replacement vinyl windows, let’s look at why some homeowners prefer this type over wooden and steel ones.  When we say vinyl windows, we refer to the material comprising the frame. Lightweight yet durable, vinyl is considered one of the most cost-effective types of windows for many newly-built homes. 

Homeowners could choose from a wide variety of designs to fit their aesthetic preferences. Vinyl also offers good insulation during high heat and cold weather. Unlike aluminum, the material isn’t directly affected by heat transfer. This makes vinyl a worthy choice if you’re aiming for energy efficiency.

The Drawbacks of Vinyl Windows

Despite these advantages, vinyl windows aren’t the top choice for many homeowners for several reasons.  Appearance-wise, wooden windows provide better curb appeal because of their timeless look, unlike vinyl windows which get a bad rap for looking bland. Because they’re made of synthetic materials, these types of windows are also prone to sagging. You will have to choose the proper size of window panels that won’t stress out the material. 

While they provide good insulation, vinyl windows get deformed at high temperatures and humidity. One silver lining to this is the fact that vinyl is easier to maintain than wooden and steel frames.  With proper care, vinyl windows could last up to 40 years but that could lessen if your home is located in more temperate areas. This will depend on whether you’re already seeing signs of deterioration.

How Do You Know If You Need to Replace Vinyl Windows? 

Although durable, vinyl is weakened by a combination of age and climate conditions. You wouldn’t know at first, but a replacement window should be considered if you notice that opening and closing them aren’t as smooth as before. 

If you wait longer, you will also hear more noise coming from the street.  If the indoor temperature is colder than usual, that could indicate a need for a replacement.  Plus, even if they’re not entirely damaged after suffering numerous hurricanes, your vinyl windows will need to be replaced to prevent more severe damage.

Other than that, you might be thinking of upgrading your home without replacing the frame material. You could go for a fresher look by choosing new styles and colors for your windows.

Whatever your purpose for replacing vinyl windows, the walkthrough below should help you do it right. Keep in mind that this works only with double-hung windows. 

The Steps to Replacing Vinyl Windows

1. Look for a reliable vendor

If you think replacing your vinyl windows is already overdue, it pays to make sure you find a good supplier. Quality will always beat cost because cheaper vinyl is more likely to deteriorate faster. While shopping around for replacement windows, don’t let affordability be your only factor. Instead, opt for sellers known for providing quality materials. Canadian homeowners and builders may click here for an example of a reliable window installation company. If you have to, look for references and do a background check on a window supplier before making your final choice.

2. Gather all your materials

Installing a replacement vinyl window requires the right kinds of tools. Other than a pry bar, you won’t need any additional tools other than the usual ones you use for any renovation project, such as a drill and an acrylic caulk gun. Unless you lack any construction experience, it’s possible that you could install the replacement windows without any additional help. 

3. Size it up

Making accurate measurements is critical for this project. For the most part, many vinyl replacements are made to order, often delivered complete with a jamb. That means you will need to measure both the interior and exterior size of a window.

Take the height, width, and sides of the frame. On the other hand, you could skip this step if the windows follow standard sizing. But it’s better safe than sorry, so make sure to take proper measurements before placing your order. 

4. Remove the stops and sashes

Once your replacement window has arrived and you’re ready to install it, you should first remove the inside stops and outside trim of your old window. This would require digging through the molding and caulk using a drill with a retractor bit to remove the screws. This will allow you to cleanly pull out the stop using a pry bar. To remove the old top sash, you will need to take out the parting stop first. This will also allow you to pull out the sash liners.

5. Install the new window in place

With your newly ordered vinyl window, see if the size checks out. Use a leveling device to make sure. At this point, you have the option of putting additional weatherproofing using aluminum tape. After that, install the new window by tilting it so that the bottom rests on the sill. Next, push the upper part and make sure it’s a good fit.

Make sure that there’s a uniform gap between the sash and the window. It will not operate correctly if there isn’t one. Use shims secured into the jamb by screws to allow this gap. You can then install the sash stops from the inside.

6. Caulk up the outside

After installing the window, go outside and apply the caulk in the gaps between the new window and the opening. Make sure to fill the gap with a foam backer rod before sealing it with caulk. Then, smooth out the surface using your finger for a clean finish.


Your replacement vinyl window could last decades depending on where you bought the unit from. However, even if you have a high-quality window that’s meant to withstand aging and extreme weather, faulty installation could significantly reduce its lifespan. Your best bet is to handle the replacement well. That should spare you from headaches later on.

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